|Rock Band pedal mod: pricey but effective|
GrrlGotGame and I are determined to get the Big in Seattle achievement, though we recently found out we'll need to clear some songs on Hard. I'm practicing my guitar licks, but the notes come quite a bit faster and I'm stretching to get the orange ones. It may take awhile. I can probably do it on bass, but not lead guitar.
I've also been corresponding with Bill Harris of Dubious Quality (one of the few blogs I consistently make time to read) and he shared a few of his tips with me. To save Bill the trouble (if you read his blog, you know that he admits openly that he's quite lazy - in fact, he's had contests on the topic), I've posted his suggestions and feedback to the comments section of my previous Tips round-up. I'm going to try to consolidate them there for now so there's one spot to find them all. Feel free to add your own!
One new thing that I'm exploring is drum mods. The first is simply a drumstick upgrade. Bill (who's become quite the avid Rock Band drummer after mastering the guitar) suggested Zildjian 5B anti-vibe sticks. My local store only had 5A, which I was assured is the standard size. They're about the same length as the sticks that come with the game only more substantial and with coated tips and a core that reduces bounceback. And they were only $10. Sweet!
I've also become intrigued by reports of people modifying real bass drum pedals to work with Rock Band. One popular mod requires soldering, which I'm sure I would mess up. But the one I'm doing sounds easy and achievable. It only requires a $3 switch which you can find online, but by the time I found a used $10 Mapex bass pedal and $36 Gibraltar practice pad (so the pedal's beater doesn't hit air) and added up all of the tax and shipping charges, I was in for nearly $90. The idea is that you tape or glue magnetic contacts to the bottom of the pedal and its base so when you push down, they send a signal through a $4 Radio Shack speaker cable that plugs into the pedal jack on the drums.
The great thing about this mod is that it doesn't require you to touch the original pedal - it replaces it. So if I mess up, there should be no harm done (well, except to my bank account). And if all goes well, I can put away the cheap plastic pedal that, by widespread accounts, breaks very easily and doesn't respond nearly as well as the real thing. It should make hitting those orange bass drum notes much easier, particularly if I ever make it to the advanced levels.
Which is still probably a long ways off, but I also won't have to worry so much about my 5-year-old or a guest drummer breaking my rig. Used bass pedal and practice pad on eBay? $80. Miscellaneous parts? $10. Peace of mind while playing Neal Peart's mad Rush beats? Priceless.